RR Grade Crossing Guidance

    DOT Logo Memorandum
    U.S. Department of

    National Highway
    Traffic Safety
    Federal Highway

    NHTSA/FHWA Guidance: Section 402
    Funding of Rail-Highway Crossing
    Safety Projects
      Date: November 4, 1994
    Associate Administrator for
    Regional Operations
    Associate Administrator for
    Safety and System Applications
    Reply to
    Attn. of:
    NHTSA Regional Administrators
    FHWA Regional Administrators
    FHWA Division Administrators

    As you are aware, the Department has developed an interagency rail-highway crossing safety action plan to address the train- motor vehicle crash problem. In response to this initiative, both NHTSA and FHWA are directing our respective field staff to advise States that Section 402 funds may be used to address significant rail-highway crossing problems.


    Examples of activities on which Section 402 funds may be expended include the following: crash analysis, public information and education campaigns, law enforcement, crash investigation training and traffic engineering studies. These types of expenditures may be incorporated within a community/corridor traffic safety program. Section 402 funds cannot be used for highway construction activities. Rail crossing warning devices and the installation of these devices are considered highway construction items. Specific funding for these activities is available from Surface Transportation Program funds set-aside for carrying out the Rail-Highway Crossings and Hazard Elimination programs. However, Section 402 funds may be used on eligible safety activities which support Federal-aid highway program construction efforts.


    The states need to adequately define the magnitude of their problems with State-specific crash and demographic data. In working with your States to assess the extent of the rail-highway crossing problem, it may be best to analyze crash data that span several years due to high year-to-year variability, focusing on high crash locations within the State. Both fatality and injury data should be collected for motor vehicle and train occupants for each crash event.

    The funding request should include a comprehensive countermeasure approach that would appear to have a reasonable opportunity for reducing or eliminating the reported problem(s). In most cases, the Section 402 approach should include public information and education, traffic engineering and law enforcement strategies.

    NHTSA has produced an excellent resource entitled Rail-Highway Crossing Safety Fatal Crash and Demographic Descriptions which should prove valuable in the problem identification phase of the States assessments. The analysis uses data from the Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) supplemented by information from the market research database, Claritas. We will send copies to the field offices under a separate cover.


    All field offices are to complete their preliminary discussions with the appropriate States concerning problem identification, countermeasure funding and implementation plans by March 1, 1995. This will allow sufficient time to review these proposals for inclusion in the States fiscal year 1996 Highway Safety plans.

    Adele Derby and Dennis C. Judycki signatures